Libraries two of 12 Stars in the state

By BUSTER WOLFE,

The library systems in Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest County and in Lamar County were singled out for their performances during fiscal year 2016 and named Mississippi Library Stars for the second consecutive year.

Twelve libraries across the state were recognized in four spending categories on the basis of visits per capita, circulation per capita, total program attendance per capita and public Internet terminal uses per capita. Lamar County was honored in the $600,001-$1 million expenditure category, while Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest County is in the $1 million and above division.

Sean Farrell, director of the Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest County Library System, said he appreciates the local support.

“I have talked with Phillip (Carter, director of the Lamar County Library System) about this and we are both blessed to have such good communities that support us,” he said. “We find our success with us, the users and the local government all working together.”

Farrell said the strength of the Internet is important to his libraries.

“I don’t know of any library in the state that has as fast an Internet connection that we do,” he said. “We have a full gigabyte in the Hattiesburg library and we are at 200 megabytes in Petal.”

The library directors in Lamar County and Hattiesburg work together for the entire region, Farrell said.

“A lot of people don’t understand that there are two library systems and that’s good,” he said. “We are able to help each other and it just makes us stronger in the Pine Belt.”

Carter said wireless activities have grown in the libraries of Sumrall, Purvis, Oak Grove and Lumberton.

“Nowadays, wireless devices are affordable,” he said. “Almost everybody has one. Our computer use hasn’t declined, but it has sort of leveled as wireless use has climbed dramatically. We are seeing more public Internet usage, but it is not always in the traditional computer sense. People are using their phones and other devices.”

The concept of Library Stars comes from the national professional magazine, Library Journal.  The publication separates library systems into categories by expenditure categories that are reported on the annual Public Library Statistics report that is submitted to the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

While Mississippi does not currently have any national Library Journal Library Stars, MLC has awarded Mississippi Library Stars to the best-scoring libraries in this state, recognizing the three highest-scoring library systems in each of four expenditure categories.